nonpartisan


I’ve addressed my concern with over-identification with political party a number of times on this blog over the years.   One such posting was entitled The Negative Consequences of Identification With Political Party.
It’s a big problem. Now comes along a group, about which I’m still seeking additional information, called No Labels. I’m intrigued. Could this be a MoveOn for Americans tired of partisan politics and interested in solutions?
Watch this YouTube video and let me know what you think.

Gaza and the stimulus were the big stories this week.  That is, they were the stories that mattered.  Although the Blagojevich/Burris story got lots of inches in the papers and I’m sure dominated television news coverage, these stories will fade in importance very soon.  Hopefully, Governor Blagojevich will soon no longer be a Governor and someone, Burris or otherwise, will soon be the new U.S. Senator from Illinois, at least for two years.  But the Gaza story and the story of the U.S. economy and what the U.S. needs to do to extricate itself from what would seem to be a looming and devastating economic collapse are the stories where the consequences of what’s happening now will be with us for years to come.   

Turning to the Gaza story first, there’s one piece to which I’ll refer this morning.  It is a column that appeared in the Washington Post this morning by Tom Segev, an Israeli columnist, entitled Peace is Not in Sight.  It runs under the heading “A New Fatalism.”   It’s a very useful piece.  The author’s bottom line is that we need to give up on seeking long-term peace for now and concentrate making “life more livable for both Israelis and Palestinians.”  Mr. Segev appears to be arguing that this is all we can hope to achieve in the near term and that this will be a necessary first-step toward achieving anything more ambitious.

On the subject of the U.S. economy and the economic stimulus being planned in Washingon, there were two excellent pieces in the New York Times on Friday.  The first, which I’ll label as an important-read, is by Paul Krugman and is entitled The Obama Gap.  Mr. Krugman makes a forceful case for a significant stimulus and he worries that even the Obama plan is not enough; that we risk doing too little, too late to avoid a serious and prolonged economic downturn in the U.S.  He argues that we will not be able to achieve the perfect in the limited time we have to act but that act we must, soon.

The second piece, which I categorize as a must-read, is David Brooks The Confidence Surplus.   As a sidebar, I met Mr. Brooks this week as I walked to the gym on Thursday evening after leaving the office.  He was trying to get into a cab in front of the Mayflower Hotel and was kind enough to pause and take off a glove to shake my hand as I tried to introduce myself.  I quickly communicated my appreciation for his work and let him catch his cab, perhaps to rush back to his office to complete this piece.  The piece is of value in it’s clear statement of the uncertain policy territory in which we’re about to enter.  We really don’t know what we’re doing but we have no choice but to do it anyway.  And, as I alluded to in the closing paragraph of my posting entitled Keynes Lives on Thursday, this will all come to a head just as a new player–a player with “audacious self-confidence” as Brooks puts it–emerges onto the American political scene.  It feels to me to be almost an example of sychronicity, as if meant to be.  Here are Brooks’ closing words in the piece:

[Obama] has picked policies that are phenomenally hard to implement, let alone in weeks. The conventional advice for presidents is: focus your energies on a few big things. Obama just blew the doors off that one.

Maybe Obama can pull this off, but I have my worries. By this time next year, he’ll either be a great president or a broken one.

Let us hope and pray with all our might that it is former and not the latter.  The country can afford no less.

Let me close with a comment on something I seem to be seeing in stories and commentary in the last few days.  What I’m seeing is a view that criticism by Capitol Hill Democrats of aspects of proposals by the incoming administration amounts to a snubbing and or is somehow disrespectful of the new President.  I am offended by the notion.  To get the best result that we possible can,  we need people of good faith and broad experience to speak their minds freely.  We cannot suppose that what President-elect Obama and his people have proposed in such a short period of time is the best it can be.  The obligation of our elected representatives is to make legislation the best it can be.  We should be thankful for it, not critical.  It is not a snub to say we can do something in a better way.

Somewhat related to the above comment is piece by David Broder in today’s Washington Post entitled An Early Drubbing For Obama.  I don’t often disagree with Mr. Broder, but I would not call President-elect Obama’s reversal in position as concerns Roland Burris a drubbing or of much significance at all.  If blame is to assessed, lay it on Harry Reid’s door, or Richard Durbin’s.  They were the ones that blinked and Obama, a realist, saw no future in holding the party line alone.  No, chalk this up to Harry Reid’s weakness as a Senate Majority Leader and not to any weakness by Mr. Obama.

Finally, I highly recommend reading David Ignatius’ piece in today’s Washington Post.  It’s entitled Mr. Cool’s Centrist Gamble.  It is a must-read.  I believe that Mr. Obama is making a bold attempt to indeed govern in a new way.  As Mr. Ignatius points out, it was hard to know during the campaign if Senator Obama, with his “limited record as a centrist politician” “really meant it”.  It is beginning to appear as if he did.  I, for one, had trouble believing it, though I wanted to badly,  as his words as a campaigner were so often couched in the rhetoric of Democratic Party populism which I find unnecessarily partisan and divisive (rich vs. poor, corporate interests vs. the working people, haves vs. have nots).  Yet I am on board, enthusiastically, for now.  I will undoubtedly be disappointed from time to time with policies that will emanate from departments and agencies peopled down the line with appointees who, unlike his top tier of relative centrists, will be distinctly left-of-center and who really believe all that Democratic populist campaign nonsense.  My point here is that Obama does appear, as I mentioned above, to be almost sychronistically the ideal man for the times and the problems with which the country is presently confronted.  A government that attempts to accomplish that which needs to be done rationally and in a relatively non or post-partisan manner needs to be supported by all of us.  It will not be perfect but it has every chance of being as good as we can possibly get.